The recliner: a pregnant lady’s best friend for a multitude of reasons. I tend to spend sleepless nights there when my heartburn is out of control or when it’s too painful for my hips to lay on the bed.
Last Tuesday, I ended up on the recliner for a new reason. I woke up to insane tightness in my upper back that was preventing me from breathing fully. It seemed like my muscles around my back and ribs were straining, being pulled extra tight by my growing belly. So, off to the recliner I went, heating pad in hand.
Needless to say, Wednesday I woke up feeling off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I assumed it was due to a night spent in a chair.
As the day progressed, I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything but sit on the couch. I was lethargic and tired.
Quite suddenly, I began to feel what could only be described as really bad menstrual cramps. They were dull and achy, but a pretty familiar feeling.
Cramping during pregnancy could never be a good thing. I hadn’t experienced any sort of cramping up to this point, so I began to panic.
Then, the cramping was accompanied by muscle tightness in my stomach and lower back pain.
Stomach muscle tightness…cramping…shortness of breath…
My hands flew to my stomach and my eyes got wide.
“Dear Lord…” I thought to myself. “Are these contractions?!”
“Do I need to time them? How do I time them?”
“I did too much yesterday, I totally induced myself.”
“If these guys come too early, this is all my fault.”
“I don’t even have a hospital bag packed!”
When it comes to twin pregnancy, I am at a higher risk of going into pre-term labor. This is pretty understandable considering how quickly twins can pack on pounds. The twins are about three and a half pounds each now, so seven pounds is another mom’s full term kid. The uterus doesn’t know there’s two, and will occasionally send the body into labor when it thinks, “Oh, this feels like a full term baby,” when in reality, I have two little ones that still need time to keep on cooking.
These contractions immediately made me fear the worst…was today the day? Twenty-nine weeks isn’t long enough. This is too soon. They aren’t ready…I’m not ready.
I did what anyone else would do…I called my mom. And my sister-in-laws. And my doctor.
Every single one of them came back with the same answer: it’s probably Braxton Hicks.
For those that don’t know, Braxton Hicks contractions are like a dress rehearsal for the real day of labor. It’s your body’s way of practicing contractions without actually bringing on birth. Real contractions come and go in consistent time frames. Braxton Hicks occur irregularly. Real contractions get noticeably more painful and grow more intense, where Braxton Hicks remain the same level of discomfort and intensity. Braxton Hicks will subside by walking or changing positions, whereas real contractions continue to kill you no matter how you’re sitting or standing or walking.
My doctor let me know that should they become more severe or begin to come closer apart, I should definitely make my way to Labor and Delivery. In the meantime, I should try walking around and drinking water, as contractions can also be brought on by dehydration.
So, I got up from my place on the couch, where I had been sitting and squeezing my legs together (like that would stop a baby from popping out) to walk around the house. I had to pause a time or two during an episode of cramping, however, lo and behold, the pains did subside.
I just about fell to my knees to thank the Lord that Wednesday was not the day. I’ve set goals for myself during this pregnancy, goals in which I actually have no control, but goals nonetheless. First, I don’t want the twins having NICU time, so I’m trying to keep them cooking as long as possible. Second, I do not want a caesarean. And third, I want to breastfeed them for the first year. I don’t have much, if any, control over whether these goals are reached. But, I was over the moon to know these contractions were not the real deal, and that I’d be able to continue on with this pregnancy.
Each and every time I feel the smallest abnormality, my mind goes directly to the “What if’s.” Every cramp, every twinge, every pain makes me think something’s gone horribly wrong.
What if they come too soon?
What if this swelling is an indication of high blood pressure? What if I have preeclampsia?
They haven’t returned the results of my glucose test. What if I have gestational diabetes?
Why am I feeling Twin B move and not Twin A? What if something’s wrong with him?
A constant state of “What if’s” is a constant state of anxiety. After all of my calls to my doctor and nurses (I blame it on being a first time mama), I’ve decided I need to edit my “What if’s.”
What if the twins aren’t moving because they’re sleeping their way through a growth spurt?
What if they didn’t call me about my test results because I passed and I don’t actually have gestational diabetes?
What if I took some time to calm down and breathe?
What if I stopped assuming the worst?
What if I trusted the Lord?
What if everything is actually going to be okay?
A positive outlook is a healthy outlook…healthy for me and healthy for my babies. Maybe relaxing and going with the flow is the secret to a healthy pregnancy. Maybe positivity is the secret to counteract the risks associated with twins, like high blood pressure, preeclampsia and pre-term labor. Maybe if I trusted in God’s plan, the twins (and the receptionist at my doctor’s office) will thank me.